Some kids are born entomologists — they just love creepy, crawly things. Bugs of all sorts excite this kind of girl’s rapt attention as she gazes intently through a magnifying glass at an insect’s every move.
Other girls, not so much.
So if your daughter is the kind who would sooner run from a beetle than watch its jewel-toned wings, here are some tips for warding off bugs at camp.
First off, bugs are just not a serious problem at Camp Alleghany. Perhaps it’s the cool mountain nights and mornings, but the place just isn’t teeming with the creepy-crawlies or the buzzing annoyers.
In fact one summer we had a parent inquire as to where our mosquito nets for the tents were, “Mosquito nets?,” we wondered. No need, seriously. And if there were a need, we’d be the first in line given we come here every year. But the bug problem is minor at best.
Still, if the thought of bugs — real or theoretical — scares you and your daughter, here’s our thoughts.
Walk softly and carry a big stick
If you’re like me, you’re just as interested in maintaining your child’s health by using natural products as you are passionate about avoiding annoying and sometimes dangerous bug bites. So, how to strike a balance?
First off, your own child’s health is your best measure. If she’s allergy prone or has sensitive skin, or if she’s on any kind of medications that adds to skin sensitivity, you’ll want to ask your physician about the best bug repellent for her situation.
Anyway, no child likes to be permanently slathered in a bunch of repellent, especially of a toxic nature — it smells bad, is often in aerosol form, and can get into her little mouth. It’s a challenge. But frankly between swimming, indoor activities, and campfires, bugs are by no means a constant problem at camp.
Old wives tales
In more bug-prone areas, like on trails, for hikes or the Ropes Course area, simply by wearing longer pants, and tucking jeans into socks or ankle boots exposure to mosquitoes and ticks can be minimized. And while it’s no sure-fire way to stop pests, some “old wives tales” do have a remarkable following.
Take Tea Tree Oil for example. Used as either an essential oil dabbed lightly behind the ears, on the neck and chest, on the wrists and here and there on the outside of clothes, much as you would a perfume, you’ve got a very natural form of repellent known in lore to ward of lice, ticks, mosquitoes and more. Or, as a mister, used lightly all over. Tea Tree Oil has a light, refreshing somewhat antiseptic smell like a eucalyptus or something. It’s no guarantee that your daughter won’t get bitten, but many moms swear by it.
Or, tea tree oil can be purchased in combination with other oils for an even more far-reaching herbal repellent.
One caution is to make sure before sending her off to camp with her own bottle that you’ve first:
- Tested that she has no allergy to the product by doing a light skin test.
- Made sure that your doctors approves.
- Make sure that she knows how to dab or spray on the product and that she understands to avoid her eyes and wash her hands afterward.
Only you can decide if a more chemically-laden product is right for your child but if so do make sure that she’s taught how to use it in such a way that it doesn’t get in her eyes, is washed off her hands, and doesn’t get onto other people without their permission.
Our staff and counselors help to check for ticks daily, keep spaces clean and neat to wears off additional bugs, and are always ready to tend to any wayward mosquito bites or bug stings that might unwittingly occur. We also help keep frightened girls calm by urging them not to panic when meeting a new bug for the first time.
In the meantime you can help defray general fears of bugs by making them interesting and fascinating (our good friends ladybugs, butterflies and dragonflies can help put the “fairy factor” back into the bug world).
Break out the spy glass, open a bug book, and peruse the world of our insect friends. You can help build a healthy but not fearful respect for stingers like our dear friends the bees (we need them, they make food!) and even put a better PR spin on less palatable bug-buddies like spiders and beetles by reminding your daughter that all creatures are part of God’s plan and that we need them for things like pollination and other bug control.
In the end, bugs play a very small part of life at camp. So with a little mindfulness and prevention your daughters shouldn’t worry, and neither should you! 🙂
–Elizabeth Dawson Shreckhise, Assistant Director, Camp Alleghany for Girls